The ICC’s largesse

The Kenyan president’s trial at the International Criminal Court has set new precedents.

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Published: Sun 20 Oct 2013, 7:57 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 10:49 AM

For the first time in nation-states political history, the world court has come up with a balanced approach that will go a long way in not only dispensing justice but also oblige with the pressing official demands of those indicted while serving in high offices.

Uhuru Kenyatta, the Kenyan head of state, was granted reprieve from attending all the trial sessions — and only ordered to appear in person when needed, as the judges popularly decided in favour of striking a balance between the legal process and the right to govern. This will help in expediting the course of justice, and innumerable persons who hold official positions could be conveniently tried, if they bowed to abide with the dictates of law.

This judgment has in other words invoked a debate, and opened doors for possible trial of powerful politicians who seek immunity from prosecution while in office. Pakistan’s former president Asif Ali Zardari’s case could be cited as a point in case, who vehemently undermined his country’s apex court rulings to stand trial for alleged money-laundering and siphoning of money in Swiss banks.

The question is while the universality of common law says that an accused is innocent until proven guilty, what ails people in high office from facing the benchmarks of justice? This dichotomy was well addressed by the ICC judges, as they wisely saw undermining of the world court on exigency grounds. The African Union had already threatened to walk out of the ICC, if presidents from Sudan and Kenya were forced to stand trial by compromising with their right to govern. The ICC’s desire to see justice done by accommodating state-centric commitments of the accused is innovative thinking.

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